1. Pick a topic that interests you 

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If you’re not interested in the topic, you won’t be excited about having to research it. Conversely, if your topic interests you, the research is going to be more fun!

2. Do broad research before narrowing it down

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Use tertiary resource materials such as encyclopedias and dictionaries in order to familiarize yourself with your topic before diving into the details with journal articles and commentaries. This will help you understand what in the world those primary and secondary sources are talking about.

3. Ask a librarian for help

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Librarians have spent a lot of time learning about the resources in their libraries, and they are great resources for helping you find which of those resources will be useful for your paper. 

4. Take detailed notes as you research

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When you have good notes on your resources, it saves time as you write and prevents plagiarism. Mention where you found the information, the bibliographic information on the resource (title, author, publisher, page number, etc.), and a note about how you anticipate using the information.

5. Make an outline before you write

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Creating an outline is good for every writing assignment whether it is a full-fledged research paper or an essay on a test. By creating an outline, you organize your thoughts and ensure that all of the pieces fit together. An outline is also an excellent way to determine which areas of your paper are strong and which need more support. Don’t ever skip the outline – even a simple outline will improve your writing!

6. Start writing your paper in whichever section works best for you

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You don’t have to start writing your paper with the introduction! If you want to write the conclusion first, go for it. If you want to write the second half of the paper before you write the first half, that’s absolutely fine. What is important is that your paper gets written, not what order you write it in.

7. Let your paper sit between finishing it and turning it in

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 After you finish writing and revising your draft, let it sit for a couple of days and then come back to it. You will catch problems with your paper you didn’t see after giving it some space. You might think of ways to expand on certain sections or realize that some of your paragraphs don’t really go with your topic. It’s easier to see those things after stepping away for a little bit.